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Author Topic: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer  (Read 6184 times)

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Offline jeepcj779

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Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« on: July 30, 2019, 06:42:11 PM »
Hello All,
  I am new as a member of the forum, but have been reading posts and articles for about the past year or so. I am preparing to retire from the Army after 24 years, and I finally decided that I want to be a sawyer when I grow up. Being as green as I am, I have several dozens of questions about how to get started (I will not ask them all now, as I can probably answer many from researching the forum). I have narrowed down the manufacturer I want to buy a mill from to Timberking and Cooks, leaning towards Timberking. Whatever mill I get will have full hydraulic log handling (see question #2).
  My first question is, other than the mill and something to move the logs and lumber around (I have a tractor with forks already), what are other essential items I will need to get started? I plan to offer sawing services at the customer's location, as well as sawing, kiln drying, and finishing at my location. That said, I know I will need at least a cant hook, any equipment associated with the operation of the kiln, and what ever sanders, planers, and shaping equipment I decide I need based on what products I plan to offer. I know the list is probably long and varied, but I would like to minimize the amount money I waste on things I don't need, so I will rely somewhat on your collective knowledge and experience here.
  My second question is what should I expect as far as the amount of physical labor I will be required to do. I plan to work mostly alone, so I know I will have to set up the mill, move/stack cut lumber, etc., I just don't know how difficult it will be. The reason I ask is because I had a total shoulder replacement this past January, and I may have to get the other replaced this winter. The one I had replaced feels much better than the original at 6 months and I'm just waiting for my strength to come back. Based on the results of my first surgery, I think I will be OK to do most tasks, but I would like informed opinions on how less-than-optimum shoulders might inhibit my ability to get things done. Based on my situation, if there are any tricks or pieces of equipment that will make my life easier that you folks know of, please include those as well. Thanks.
  

Offline Woodpecker52

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2019, 07:12:21 PM »
Almost impossible to do alone and the work is hard, like an old pulpwooder use to say " Its a rough ole go!
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 07:22:07 PM »
   Here is a suggested start if you are thinking about mobile sawing. http://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=100326.0

   Sounds like 2 good mills but why aren't you interested in Woodmizer? The nearest dealer to you is a couple hours away - he is the one I got mine from although I have dealt with other offices including the main HQ in Indy and I have had super support from all. I hear good things about Cooks and Timberking but I can personally verify WM.

   Have you looked at or for similar operations in your area? If there are others what service will you provide that they don't. (Around here there is a manual mill somebody owns up every other holler and many offer to saw cheaper than I do but in most cases they are not mobile so that is my niche I am chasing.)

    Dealer LogRite is the cat's meow when you talk about cant hooks. You really need 2 long ones and maybe even a short mill special. I won't embarrass him while he is currently vacationing in the PNW but I know of one member who has a dozen or so (at least it seems that way). :D

    I would suggest you go to every sawmill demo and show possible as even if not the mill you choose you will learn shortcuts and time and step saving tips even if you just learn about features you don't want or others that are a must have.

    If there are other sawyers in your area I'd suggest you see if you can go off bear for them and get a better feel for the steps and labor expectations. Many FF members are very open to search and I learn something every time I get around one. 

    Make a list of questions and search them here and you will likely find the answer but if not post it and I am sure you will get a respectful reply even if certain members find out you really don't like grits (yet). :D

    Oh, BTW - welcome.

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Offline esteadle

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 07:25:44 PM »
First piece of equipment to buy with those shoulders is a Lackey. You need a 15/hour assistant to help you move boards. The boards that sell well are big wide thick and heavy. If you try to make money with thin, narrow short boards, you're going to go broke. But with those shoulders being replaced you are not going to have the strength to muscle around an 8/4 22" wide flitch. You need help on the other end of that board to do what you need to do to make money. 

Besides a Lackey, you need: 
Chainsaws (and all the accessories: chains, chain lube, chain files, gloves, fuel mix, fuel mix canisters)
Cant hooks / digging bars - moving logs takes effort and levers are good for reducing that effort
Fuel cans - you will run out of fuel when sawing the big logs, so bring extra
Gloves - 12 pair to start; the cheap ones wear out after a week of sawing 
Grease gun - everything on a sawmill needs grease
Tools - a good set of deep well sockets, open and box end wrenches, screwdrivers, 5lb hammer, Large crescent
Electrical tester, tape, wires, and wire nuts to repair stuff in the field
Assortment of Grade 8 bolts and nuts in (SAE - nobody uses metric on Sawmills in the US) 
Stand Umbrella - you're going to saw in the rain, the snow, the sun and the wind if you want to make money
Truck - all the stuff you need at a job site is not going to fit in your back seat. 
You'll need an 250 / 2000 / 3/4 ton pickup. Don't go any less. 
All the stuff you need for towing: Draw bar hitch pins, hitch lock, towing chains, electrical adapters, bungee cords, hitch adapter, brake light adapters, all the stuff needed to wire it up. 
Blades - 30 or so to start. If you are out sawing other peoples logs, you'll use 3 or 4 per job or more if you hit objects. 
Straps and chains and cleats and clevis hooks and connectors and pins - you'll be moving logs by hand until you get these things to help you move them with a truck. 
Spare parts for the most common things that break on a mill: Bearings, hoses, relays, engine parts. 
Buckets, and bins and containers for sawdust, scraps, and fluids running out of your mill. 
Hardhat and chainsaw chaps if you plan to be around the tree felling and bucking operations. 

Before you go out and saw, get some 4x4s cut to stack your customer's lumber on. Cut yourself several dozen stickers to help them stack the lumber so it doesn't go to waste (if it does, they won't call you back). 

Are you SURE you want to do this? 
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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019, 08:03:13 PM »
First: Thank You for your Service! Second: Congratulations on your impending retirement. Third: Welcome to the forum.
 As you have been reading here over the past year, there are a lot of ways to go about this and everybody is different with differing goals. You have a lot to think about and plan. I got my mill back in October and did some quick wood to build a shed for the tools I needed to support it. The got snowed out, did some thinking and studying and really set about making good wood come spring. All the while trying to figure out where I am going with all this. It's a 'spare time thing' for me, and I have no spare time, just time I can squeeze out.
 But there is how I look at it: You are basically building a manufacturing facility or production line. As with all of these operations, things come in, get work done, and value added, then get moved out (sold). SO if you try to look at it from that point of view, you begin in the front. Where am I getting my logs? how will they get to the mill from the woodlot, how mill I get them ON the mill, how will I get them OFF the mill? Where and how will i stack them for air drying? Will I kiln dry, if so, where and in what? If they are kiln dried where and how will I store them after that? Then there are similar questions with portable milling, etc. 
 The point is, break the process into pieces beginning at the front because if you try to figure it all out at once, you are bound to get off track because you don't know what you don't know yet. You learn an awful lot your first time through each section, then you have a MUCH better idea of what the next step is. You read here, so you have seen posts where someone said words to the effect of "That's it, I am loosing too much time, I HAVE to get a forklift, can somebody make a recommendation?" (substitute 'forklift' with edger, green chain, bigger mill, planer, or anything else). The point is, when you need it, you will know, and you will have a pretty good idea of the size or type you want by then too. Just start with the basics and work your way along. You will go a little crazy if you try to plan it all out first, acquire it all, then try to make it work.
 As for your shoulders, yes, you need to be very careful. This is very heavy work with lots of opportunity to get hurt, especially if you are favoring a particular body part. I hurt my back badly just two months in by just pushing the mill head along in a simple cut. Cost me nearly a month of work, but since then, my strength has improved greatly after good treatment that continues to help me. I feel better and stronger now than I have in 20 years, but my wind doesn't hold up as well and if I really push it to get an order done like I did last week I get a little scared at how exhausted I am after just 6 hours working in the heat without stopping. Even though I have turned a lot of fat back into muscle and haven't lost any weight, the lungs are still my weak spot. If you get hurt it could really hurt your plans, especially if you have loan payments to make. My stuff is ALL manual. I suggest you get every hydraulic do-dad you can, loading, rolling, toe boards, drag back, etc. to make that "working alone thing' go as far as it can. It can be done but it will take a lot of detailed setup work.
 I am not trying to scare you at all, if I did it, anyone can. BUT you need to consider all this and have a plan. I would kill to get a tail gunner, even a 14 year old kid to help one day a week would be huge (provided I can teach him/her how to work).
 You will hit hundreds of little road blocks along the way, when you research them here I promise that the solutions you may have already read through will make a LOT more sense after it happens to you.
 Best of luck, there is a good team here to help you out, I am just a new guy. Don't be shy with specific questions.
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Offline jeepcj779

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2019, 10:56:48 PM »
Almost impossible to do alone and the work is hard, like an old pulpwooder use to say " Its a rough ole go!
One of the best compliments I ever received was from my Grand Dad who told me I was a smart worker. I didn't know what he meant until my Dad told me that meant I worked hard and did what I was supposed to. I don't mind hard work, I just hope I am still capable. I expect to receive some assistance from willing customers. I know this can be a double-edged sword, but I have some experience managing people who don't know what they are doing.

Offline Southside

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2019, 11:32:54 PM »
Welcome to the Forum and thank you for your service.  My first advice would be to slow down, you have taken the "Army of one" line a bit too literally from what you describe here. The vision of what you want to do it very much along the line of what I do, but I don't and can't do it alone for starters.  As far as managing people, customers are not in your chain of command and one of the down falls of a strong economy is hiring labor.  I am telling you it is snowflake city out there way too often.  Yes you can find good folks, but you will go through a lot of poor ones to get them.  Had a new guy today that made me pull out the few remaining hairs I had left.  

As far as other stuff you will need and or want - a building is first, you can't saw in the rain, and the sun will kill off any help you do manage to find, in addition you need storage as customers don't come as soon as something is finished and you don't want a finished product getting wet.  You need rollers and or conveyors to reduce material handling, you need a sawdust collection system to keep from shoveling yards of sawdust each day.  If you set up a planer and sander then those are absolutely mandatory just to keep the equipment functioning.  You will want a very good edger as you can't edge lumber to the accuracy you will need on a bandsaw if you are selling finished products.  You will need a trim saw / jump saw of some kind and a battery chain saw.  Oh - spare parts, means to sharpen bands, knives, etc.  When doing my taxes last year I took a look at my depreciation schedule and realized I could have a really, really, nice home with what I have invested in equipment. 

What I am getting at is before you jump into the deep end, make sure the pool has water in it.  You need to find your market before you go all in.  I can tell you what I am doing is not what I thought I would be doing.  I found a niche and things grew from there.  I would not want to be in a position where I had all the wrong equipment for what I was doing, so I let it grow organically.  

I can't speak to a shoulder injury, but I can tell you this is a physical game.  You can only reduce so much of the handling at this level as your eyes and mind need to be in the game to make it work with each piece of lumber.   Now I did break my L5 when I stepped where I should not have, so it's not like I am at the top of my game and I am able to get it done, but like I said I pay for help and reduce the effect of gravity any way possible.  In all of this my take away would be to take a step back and get your feet wet before you jump right in.  Learning to saw is a new education, learning to dry another, dealing with civilian employees, a whole new world,  then adding value through planing / moulding, etc.  It can work and works very well, just understand what you are up against.  If possible visit as many operations as you can, you are welcome to come here and observe the chaos if you would like, just bring good boots - never know when a cow may wander by or a calf may decide now is the time to arrive.  
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Offline jeepcj779

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2019, 01:48:23 AM »
  Here is a suggested start if you are thinking about mobile sawing. http://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=100326.0

   Sounds like 2 good mills but why aren't you interested in Woodmizer? The nearest dealer to you is a couple hours away - he is the one I got mine from although I have dealt with other offices including the main HQ in Indy and I have had super support from all. I hear good things about Cooks and Timberking but I can personally verify WM.

   Have you looked at or for similar operations in your area? If there are others what service will you provide that they don't. (Around here there is a manual mill somebody owns up every other holler and many offer to saw cheaper than I do but in most cases they are not mobile so that is my niche I am chasing.)

    Dealer Logrite is the cat's meow when you talk about cant hooks. You really need 2 long ones and maybe even a short mill special. I won't embarrass him while he is currently vacationing in the PNW but I know of one member who has a dozen or so (at least it seems that way). :D

    I would suggest you go to every sawmill demo and show possible as even if not the mill you choose you will learn shortcuts and time and step saving tips even if you just learn about features you don't want or others that are a must have.

    If there are other sawyers in your area I'd suggest you see if you can go off bear for them and get a better feel for the steps and labor expectations. Many FF members are very open to search and I learn something every time I get around one.

    Make a list of questions and search them here and you will likely find the answer but if not post it and I am sure you will get a respectful reply even if certain members find out you really don't like grits (yet). :D

    Oh, BTW - welcome.
  Thank you for the advice. To answer your question, I initially started my search with WM, as they are probably the most prevalent manufacturer in the industry. After researching and watching a few hours of video of several mills, I decided I prefer the 4 post design to the cantilever . In some videos, I could actually see the WM head "bouncing". I don't know if it was operator error, the speed of the cut or what, but I could see the head bounce. I know there are many, many satisfied WM owners who can and will argue against this, and it may not even affect the cut, but I saw it, and I can't un-see it. I don't have the experience necessary to argue the merits of one design over another, I just prefer 4 post. I did see that there is a WM dealer within a couple hours of me, and I do plan to visit when I am home on leave in October. Trust me, I prefer to have a dealer close by, but that is not my primary consideration.
  I have looked at other operations in the area (not in person - just through ads), and I think I can provide two key elements that I don't see advertised much: mobility and kiln drying. Also, I will buy the biggest mobile mill I can afford, so I will also have an advantage (especially with the TK 2200) in the size of log I can cut and the width of cut (37"). I read on the forum that one of the senior forum members was able to cut a log over 40" on a WM, but the cut throat of the largest WM mill is only 34".
  I will look into the logrite cant hooks. Maybe the un-named member with a dozen can let everyone else know when they find one they like.
  I would love to go to shows and demos, but I am currently stationed in Hawaii, so there are none to be found. If there is a web site where I can see what shows are happening where and when, please point me in the right direction. When I get home for good next spring, I will try to get together with some FF members in my area to help them out and see what I can learn at the same time. I guess I have not been on the forum long enough to understand the grits reference?

Offline jeepcj779

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2019, 02:15:22 AM »
Welcome to the Forum and thank you for your service.  My first advice would be to slow down, you have taken the "Army of one" line a bit too literally from what you describe here. The vision of what you want to do it very much along the line of what I do, but I don't and can't do it alone for starters.  As far as managing people, customers are not in your chain of command and one of the down falls of a strong economy is hiring labor.  I am telling you it is snowflake city out there way too often.  Yes you can find good folks, but you will go through a lot of poor ones to get them.  Had a new guy today that made me pull out the few remaining hairs I had left.  

As far as other stuff you will need and or want - a building is first, you can't saw in the rain, and the sun will kill off any help you do manage to find, in addition you need storage as customers don't come as soon as something is finished and you don't want a finished product getting wet.  You need rollers and or conveyors to reduce material handling, you need a sawdust collection system to keep from shoveling yards of sawdust each day.  If you set up a planer and sander then those are absolutely mandatory just to keep the equipment functioning.  You will want a very good edger as you can't edge lumber to the accuracy you will need on a bandsaw if you are selling finished products.  You will need a trim saw / jump saw of some kind and a battery chain saw.  Oh - spare parts, means to sharpen bands, knives, etc.  When doing my taxes last year I took a look at my depreciation schedule and realized I could have a really, really, nice home with what I have invested in equipment.

What I am getting at is before you jump into the deep end, make sure the pool has water in it.  You need to find your market before you go all in.  I can tell you what I am doing is not what I thought I would be doing.  I found a niche and things grew from there.  I would not want to be in a position where I had all the wrong equipment for what I was doing, so I let it grow organically.  

I can't speak to a shoulder injury, but I can tell you this is a physical game.  You can only reduce so much of the handling at this level as your eyes and mind need to be in the game to make it work with each piece of lumber.   Now I did break my L5 when I stepped where I should not have, so it's not like I am at the top of my game and I am able to get it done, but like I said I pay for help and reduce the effect of gravity any way possible.  In all of this my take away would be to take a step back and get your feet wet before you jump right in.  Learning to saw is a new education, learning to dry another, dealing with civilian employees, a whole new world,  then adding value through planing / moulding, etc.  It can work and works very well, just understand what you are up against.  If possible visit as many operations as you can, you are welcome to come here and observe the chaos if you would like, just bring good boots - never know when a cow may wander by or a calf may decide now is the time to arrive.  
When I came in it was "Be all that you can be". Its been down hill from there. I guess sometimes you just need to be alone...but I meant that initially, I don't plan to have any employees, so I'll be doing most stuff alone. I only plan to work the equivalent of part time, unless the income is too good to pass up, so high production is not one of my initial goals. I do plan to take things slow, both with sawing and buying equipment. When (if) I can build my skills and clientele to an appropriate level, then I might try to step it up by hiring employees and buying new equipment. Initially, I only plan to offer rough sawn lumber and slabs, then kiln drying later (when I get it built). If there is demand, I may move on to finished slabbing, planing, moulding, etc.
  I have a couple barns already, and my next-summer project is to build a dedicated saw shelter and lean-to on the long side of the big barn (~70 ft) for the lumber. I'll get to the kiln when I have time. Thanks for the reply.

Offline jeepcj779

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2019, 02:36:44 AM »
First piece of equipment to buy with those shoulders is a Lackey. You need a 15/hour assistant to help you move boards. The boards that sell well are big wide thick and heavy. If you try to make money with thin, narrow short boards, you're going to go broke. But with those shoulders being replaced you are not going to have the strength to muscle around an 8/4 22" wide flitch. You need help on the other end of that board to do what you need to do to make money.

Besides a Lackey, you need:
Chainsaws (and all the accessories: chains, chain lube, chain files, gloves, fuel mix, fuel mix canisters)
Cant hooks / digging bars - moving logs takes effort and levers are good for reducing that effort
Fuel cans - you will run out of fuel when sawing the big logs, so bring extra
Gloves - 12 pair to start; the cheap ones wear out after a week of sawing
Grease gun - everything on a sawmill needs grease
Tools - a good set of deep well sockets, open and box end wrenches, screwdrivers, 5lb hammer, Large crescent
Electrical tester, tape, wires, and wire nuts to repair stuff in the field
Assortment of Grade 8 bolts and nuts in (SAE - nobody uses metric on Sawmills in the US)
Stand Umbrella - you're going to saw in the rain, the snow, the sun and the wind if you want to make money
Truck - all the stuff you need at a job site is not going to fit in your back seat.
You'll need an 250 / 2000 / 3/4 ton pickup. Don't go any less.
All the stuff you need for towing: Draw bar hitch pins, hitch lock, towing chains, electrical adapters, bungee cords, hitch adapter, brake light adapters, all the stuff needed to wire it up.
Blades - 30 or so to start. If you are out sawing other peoples logs, you'll use 3 or 4 per job or more if you hit objects.
Straps and chains and cleats and clevis hooks and connectors and pins - you'll be moving logs by hand until you get these things to help you move them with a truck.
Spare parts for the most common things that break on a mill: Bearings, hoses, relays, engine parts.
Buckets, and bins and containers for sawdust, scraps, and fluids running out of your mill.
Hardhat and chainsaw chaps if you plan to be around the tree felling and bucking operations.

Before you go out and saw, get some 4x4s cut to stack your customer's lumber on. Cut yourself several dozen stickers to help them stack the lumber so it doesn't go to waste (if it does, they won't call you back).

Are you SURE you want to do this?
  First let me apologize to everyone for quoting in every reply. I can't figure out how to reply to specific posts.
  This started out as something I wanted to do for a hobby. I've been doing "have-to" for a long time. I figure it was about time to do something I want to do. I will have to invest a little more in equipment than I would if I was doing it solely as a hobby, but I'm OK with that. The money making part will make my wife OK with it too.
  I have a small stable of chain saws and associated support/safety equipment. I also have many of the tools you mentioned, along with cables, block+tackle, 2500 Ram, 14K flatbed, tractor with forks, etc. I didn't think of an umbrella though (that's genius). I have a couple pop-up party shelters that will work. The first things I produce off the mill will be stickers.
  I appreciate all the advice, and yes, I am sure I want to do this.

Offline jeepcj779

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2019, 02:59:24 AM »
First: Thank You for your Service! Second: Congratulations on your impending retirement. Third: Welcome to the forum.
 As you have been reading here over the past year, there are a lot of ways to go about this and everybody is different with differing goals. You have a lot to think about and plan. I got my mill back in October and did some quick wood to build a shed for the tools I needed to support it. The got snowed out, did some thinking and studying and really set about making good wood come spring. All the while trying to figure out where I am going with all this. It's a 'spare time thing' for me, and I have no spare time, just time I can squeeze out.
 But there is how I look at it: You are basically building a manufacturing facility or production line. As with all of these operations, things come in, get work done, and value added, then get moved out (sold). SO if you try to look at it from that point of view, you begin in the front. Where am I getting my logs? how will they get to the mill from the woodlot, how mill I get them ON the mill, how will I get them OFF the mill? Where and how will i stack them for air drying? Will I kiln dry, if so, where and in what? If they are kiln dried where and how will I store them after that? Then there are similar questions with portable milling, etc.
 The point is, break the process into pieces beginning at the front because if you try to figure it all out at once, you are bound to get off track because you don't know what you don't know yet. You learn an awful lot your first time through each section, then you have a MUCH better idea of what the next step is. You read here, so you have seen posts where someone said words to the effect of "That's it, I am loosing too much time, I HAVE to get a forklift, can somebody make a recommendation?" (substitute 'forklift' with edger, green chain, bigger mill, planer, or anything else). The point is, when you need it, you will know, and you will have a pretty good idea of the size or type you want by then too. Just start with the basics and work your way along. You will go a little crazy if you try to plan it all out first, acquire it all, then try to make it work.
 As for your shoulders, yes, you need to be very careful. This is very heavy work with lots of opportunity to get hurt, especially if you are favoring a particular body part. I hurt my back badly just two months in by just pushing the mill head along in a simple cut. Cost me nearly a month of work, but since then, my strength has improved greatly after good treatment that continues to help me. I feel better and stronger now than I have in 20 years, but my wind doesn't hold up as well and if I really push it to get an order done like I did last week I get a little scared at how exhausted I am after just 6 hours working in the heat without stopping. Even though I have turned a lot of fat back into muscle and haven't lost any weight, the lungs are still my weak spot. If you get hurt it could really hurt your plans, especially if you have loan payments to make. My stuff is ALL manual. I suggest you get every hydraulic do-dad you can, loading, rolling, toe boards, drag back, etc. to make that "working alone thing' go as far as it can. It can be done but it will take a lot of detailed setup work.
 I am not trying to scare you at all, if I did it, anyone can. BUT you need to consider all this and have a plan. I would kill to get a tail gunner, even a 14 year old kid to help one day a week would be huge (provided I can teach him/her how to work).
 You will hit hundreds of little road blocks along the way, when you research them here I promise that the solutions you may have already read through will make a LOT more sense after it happens to you.
 Best of luck, there is a good team here to help you out, I am just a new guy. Don't be shy with specific questions.
  That is a great post. I have thought about many of the aspects you mentioned, from getting logs to moving products and I am trying to separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. As an example, it would be nice to have a log truck with a grapple, but I don't need another mortgage. My plan right now is to start with the best mill I can afford, then develop from there. I plan to get all the hydraulic do-dads I can. Thanks for the advice.

Offline kelLOGg

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2019, 05:43:26 AM »
I am not far from you and if you would like to drop by to see my operation you are welcome. I have a Cook mill, the MP32 to which I have added electric loading and turning, etc, so it is quite different from the hydraulic version, but you are welcome anyway. BW, the Cook mills are very rugged - I've had mine 17 years and it has held up very well.

Bob
Cook's MP-32, 16HP, 20' (modified w/ power feed, up/down, loader/turner)
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2019, 05:51:39 AM »
  I plan to offer sawing services at the customer's location, as well as sawing, kiln drying, and finishing at my location. That said, I know I will need at least a cant hook, any equipment associated with the operation of the kiln, and what ever sanders, planers, and shaping equipment I decide I need based on what products I plan to offer.   
  
I will help you on the quote part. 2 ways to it. Hightlight what you don't want,as I did,than press the space bar or use the backspace. Well if you are on a phone,I have no idea. This is on a desktop.
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for protecting us.
Sounds like you are going to be busy. The only thing I can tell you,you will need to hire some help with that list.
I myself,if I was going to work,I would become a handy man. In my area,I could make some money. Not a man that build houses,just one to help out doing the small jobs.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2019, 08:59:58 AM »
Jeepcj,

     It sounds like you are way ahead on the equipment side than I was and in some case still am. There are tons of comments here on the 4 post head and I am sure they are stable. WM even makes a couple now. I watched them at a demo at the NC dealer shop and I saw I'd have to change the way I unload my lumber if I had one. Not right or wrong just different. The biggest complaint I have about the dealers selling them is with some who, as part of their own marketing, say a cantilever head can't cut straight. That's not true and I like to cut a 1/8" veneer cut and show people when they say that. The last log I cut yesterday was a 12' red oak and I was cutting 18" at a pass (I had made a 6" & a 12" cant) cutting some real pretty 4/4 boards. I will say more power and more torque are always nice. My 25 hp kohler uses a little less than a gallon an hour. I ran for 4.3 hours yesterday, all red oak, and cut about 900 bf of 4/4 and a little 6/4 RO lumber. A bigger mill should cut more and faster but that was about as fast as we could handle it with the equipment and muscle power we had on hand. 

    I'd suggest concentrate more on whether you will be doing mobile or stationary. The equipment and processing will be real different. On a mobile job you are typically at the mercy of what equipment the customer has for loading and handling logs, boards, sawdust and slabs. If stationary you can consider the edgers, rollers, etc that you can't haul. Also on a mobile job you you have to have and carry a good maintenance and consumable kit with you in case you have to make repairs in the field. When stationary you can just run to the shed and get the item needed. 

   The building SouthSide mentions as essential to his operation is not going to be there when sawing mobile. Portable jobs are very much dependent on the weather and way more so than stationary.

    Look carefully at your pricing. Be fair to both sides. You need to be competitive but make a decent profit so you have to be real diligent about capturing all your costs. You will make mistakes - learn from them, correct them as best you can and try not to repeat them. Your reputation is your most valuable asset IMHO and referral from other customers is your best advertising. If you can't handle a request, turn it down or refer to someone who can. Unfortunately at first you won't know that till you try - the old Catch 22 syndrome. I try to practice new cuts and such at home on my wood rather than at a customer site when possible. Good luck.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2019, 09:16:58 AM »
Read old jarheads posts. Informative and entertaining. He chronicles his beginning years doing portable milling. He paid off a new truck and lt40 in a couple seasons ! He too had injuries.
Making Sawdust, boards and signs.
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2019, 11:01:21 AM »
Good day Jeepcj.  I have a TK b2000 and am happy with the mill itself and the support from Matt and the guys at TK.  I live about 3 hours away and stop in when I am in KC.  You could subscribe to sawmill and woodlot magazine for more info but also searching here can answer many if not all start up questions.  there are several members in NC and most would be happy to let you stop by and maybe work for a day with them to get you feet dusty!  Welcome to the FF and welcome home when the time gets here!
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline alan gage

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2019, 11:47:38 AM »
From someone else who is starting out on this same venture I can tell you that sawing is a very small part of what you'll actually be doing.

Want to saw something? Where is the log coming from? Are you going to cut down the trees or pick them up somewhere or have them delivered?

Great, now you've got some logs. Lets get sawing! But where will the wood be stacked to dry after it's sawed? Maybe time to put up a drying shed.

OK. Now we've got someplace to stack lumber so lets get to sawing out some nice wood! But how are we going to stack the wood? It would be really nice if everything was on pallets, making it easy to move and transport later. So instead of sawing nice wood saw some junk wood into pallet boards and build a bunch of pallets.

Now we should be able to saw good logs. But wait, now we need stickers. Lots of stickers! So saw up more junk logs until you're sick of making stickers. That should be enough to hold you over for a week or so.

While you're doing all this you'll be prepping your site for milling and trimming logs and end sealing them and stacking them in piles based on length and species and then realizing you should have stacked them in a different spot so you move them again and then you realize some of these logs are just firewood and some aren't even good enough for that so you haul them away and somewhere along the way you realize that logs are really heavy and that your tractor with forks isn't big enough to handle some of them and that it really wants to tip over on you so you go out and spend a bunch of money on something more capable.

And now you saw up some beautiful lumber sawed and stacked and get it all tucked away in the drying shed. And while it's air drying you start building your kiln and build a nice shop for the jointer and planer and table saw and chop saw and when that lumber that was so beautiful coming off the saw comes out of the kiln you find out that a good bit of it has bowed or cupped or twisted and you spend hours at the jointer and planer and wish you'd have bought bigger and faster ones but that would require 3 phase power and you don't have 3 phase power so you start researching phase converters and then someone comes in and buys $300 worth of wood and you think, "this is great, it only took me 20 minutes to saw that log and I sold the wood for $300" and you conveniently forget how much time you spent doing all those other things.

I glossed over a lot of things but you get the idea.

I'm not saying you have a bad idea or that it won't work. Just that until you actually get into the process I don't think you can really know all that's involved. It sure was (and continues to be) an eye opener for me. It will help that you're retired and presumably live in a climate that will let you saw nearly year round. Trying to fit this in around a full time job and 5 months of winter compresses time a bit. I'm still shocked at how few logs I've actually milled compared to the amount of time I've invested into the rest of it.

Good luck and have fun!

Alan

Timberking B-16, a few chainsaws from small to large, and a Bobcat 873 Skidloader.

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2019, 11:51:36 AM »
My dad was stationed in Hawaii in the late 50s as an army MP and was on the colonels rifle team.  we want to visit someday.  If you contact timberking, they can tell you if there is a mill in your area.  They are a sponsor and several folks including the owner follow this forum.  you may have stated already, but what is your timeline for return.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline nativewolf

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2019, 12:10:07 PM »
I would add that the two differentiators you mentioned, mobile and kiln drying, are ....well they are not aligned.  Sawing is a matter of logistics.  Southside and others have mentioned it already so I am beating a worn topic but...I'll beat it anyway.  You want to know how you are going to handle everything before you start up, at least it is good to have a roadmap in place.  Some like Magicman decided long ago that they liked sawing and not stacking, as a result he does mobile sawing almost exclusively.  Others like Yellowhammer and Southside and (several guys in NC) have somewhat permanent operations and differentiate by kiln drying, slabbing, doing long timbers, etc.  They all have figured out how to mechanize wood handling and yet are looking to improve all the time.  Log to mill, log onto mill, mill, boards moved off, sawdust moved off, slabs moved off, boards restacked, boards hangout somewhere in barns or in field, boards go to customer.  It is just one giant logistic puzzle and only a bit of it is sawing, certainly less than half.  Drying the boards properly might be more important than cutting properly.  

I like a 4 post mill myself but I am not sawing mobile.  Read @Stuart Caruk long threads about his decision to go to a 4 post woodmizer mill instead of keep his cantilevered WM.  He said somewhere that he thinks it is a better option for mobile sawing as it is easier to level.  He went 4 post because he was not doing mobile work and was fixed (welded/bolted to fixed surface mounts).  

Lots of members in NC, I bet you could go work at one's mill for a week and offbear and learn a ton..I mean a ton.  We had 3 guys offbearing for mobile sawyers on and off for 2 years before I bit bullet and decided to bring in house.  Labor is my greatest challenge.
Liking Walnut

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Re: Questions from a Prospective Sawyer
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2019, 12:26:56 PM »
From someone else who is starting out on this same venture I can tell you that sawing is a very small part of what you'll actually be doing.

Want to saw something? Where is the log coming from? Are you going to cut down the trees or pick them up somewhere or have them delivered?

Great, now you've got some logs. Lets get sawing! But where will the wood be stacked to dry after it's sawed? Maybe time to put up a drying shed.

OK. Now we've got someplace to stack lumber so lets get to sawing out some nice wood! But how are we going to stack the wood? It would be really nice if everything was on pallets, making it easy to move and transport later. So instead of sawing nice wood saw some junk wood into pallet boards and build a bunch of pallets.

Now we should be able to saw good logs. But wait, now we need stickers. Lots of stickers! So saw up more junk logs until you're sick of making stickers. That should be enough to hold you over for a week or so.

While you're doing all this you'll be prepping your site for milling and trimming logs and end sealing them and stacking them in piles based on length and species and then realizing you should have stacked them in a different spot so you move them again and then you realize some of these logs are just firewood and some aren't even good enough for that so you haul them away and somewhere along the way you realize that logs are really heavy and that your tractor with forks isn't big enough to handle some of them and that it really wants to tip over on you so you go out and spend a bunch of money on something more capable.

And now you saw up some beautiful lumber sawed and stacked and get it all tucked away in the drying shed. And while it's air drying you start building your kiln and build a nice shop for the jointer and planer and table saw and chop saw and when that lumber that was so beautiful coming off the saw comes out of the kiln you find out that a good bit of it has bowed or cupped or twisted and you spend hours at the jointer and planer and wish you'd have bought bigger and faster ones but that would require 3 phase power and you don't have 3 phase power so you start researching phase converters and then someone comes in and buys $300 worth of wood and you think, "this is great, it only took me 20 minutes to saw that log and I sold the wood for $300" and you conveniently forget how much time you spent doing all those other things.

I glossed over a lot of things but you get the idea.

I'm not saying you have a bad idea or that it won't work. Just that until you actually get into the process I don't think you can really know all that's involved. It sure was (and continues to be) an eye opener for me. It will help that you're retired and presumably live in a climate that will let you saw nearly year round. Trying to fit this in around a full time job and 5 months of winter compresses time a bit. I'm still shocked at how few logs I've actually milled compared to the amount of time I've invested into the rest of it.

Good luck and have fun!

Alan
This is 100% spot on. I started by building the mill. Then I started cutting. shoot. now I need a place to stack it. stopped cutting started making space to just stack outside. Shoot. need stickers. I thought I had enough. Not even close. So I made a ton of stickers. yup. lasted for 3 logs. Was out of stickers in one cutting session. Now cut more stickers.

Side note:
I actually figured out if you get about a weeks worth of stickers cut, then every time your cutting after that make a bunch of stickers. As long as you can do this you may be able to stay ahead on your sticker needs. They do not take long to dry to the point they will not mold.

Now you got everything cut stickered and stacked. Now we wait. Sure wish I could but I keep stacking them where they are in the way. Now of course I am out of space to stack wood. I have a big pile of logs needing to cut but no place to put the lumber. And of course I stacked them on top of each other so now whenever I need to get to the bottom I need to move the tops. Now where do I put them so I can get to the bottom.

It is an ongoing cycle. But it sure is enjoyable :)


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